Every so often, real life intrudes on blogging. So it was last night when I had to go to a work-related meeting and didn’t get back until late. Still, that means today’s a perfect opportunity to do what I’m usually not very good at: A brief post. I’ve related time and time again how when antivaccinationists claim to be “pro-vaccine safety” or “pro-freedom” (the latter of which is the newest favorite meme used by antivaccine advocates to argue that they aren’t antivaccine, or, as I call it, an antivaccine dog whistle), they’re either deluding themselves or lying. I’ve pointed out how sometimes, in a perverse way, I almost respect antivaccinationists who actually come right out and say they’re antivaccine, because at least they’re being honest with themselves and the world. None of that stops me from deconstructing their nonsense, but you do have to sort of respect the honesty about that point, at least, even as you’re ripping apart the intellectual dishonesty of their arguments against vaccine.

In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak earlier this year, several states are considering measures to tighten up the process for getting nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates. The largest of these is, of course, California, with its SB 277, which would eliminate nonmedical vaccine exemptions. Not surprisingly, there’s been a backlash among the antivaccine movement and its fellow travellers, such as conservatives who mistakenly conflate freedom with the freedom not to vaccinate their children.

Apparently, this backlash is leading to attempts at legislation:

Rep. David Sawicki, R-Auburn, is asking Maine lawmakers to approve a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against any person who decides to forgo certain vaccinations.

Sawicki is the sponsor of LD 950, An Act to Prohibit Discrimination against a Person Who Is Not Vaccinated.

Sawicki said Monday that his bill is simple, in that if a person or the parent of a child decided against vaccinations for any reason, he or she could not be discriminated against by a school, employer or any other entity.

While Maine already allows for a “philosophical exemption,” Sawicki said his measure strengthens that and would make it difficult for the state to ever rollback that exemption.

“We are naturally born with a genius immune system, endowed by our creator, that has enabled the human race to grow and thrive over the eons,” Sawicki told the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee on Monday. “The immune system we are born with today has evolved and improved over the centuries as our environment and way of life has changed, and we have adapted. On the other hand, the existence of the vaccine business, relative to the existence of human beings, is but a tiny blip, 50 or so years.”

Sawicki said Mainers concerned that unvaccinated children might spread illness and disease in public schools shouldn’t worry if their children are vaccinated against the diseases they are worried about and they believe in vaccines.

The stupid, it burns.

I mean, seriously. Our immune system was so great that our children died like flies due to epidemics of infectious diseases and, as recently as 100 years ago, the deaths of children from diseases that are now preventable with vaccines were not uncommon and as recently as 60 years ago people lived in fear of polio. As for unvaccinated children being a threat to the vaccinated, once again, Mr. Sawicki apparently needs to be educated that no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccinated children have less to worry about than unvaccinated children when coming in contact with the unvaccinated, but less is not “nothing.” That’s leaving aside the concept of herd immunity, which acts as a brake on the spread of disease.

Meanwhile, another legislator speaking in favor of the bill, Robert Foley, made the same argument, asking ““I know there are those who will argue that my choice not to vaccinate or to vaccinate under a different protocol somehow impacts their child’s health. But I ask you, how does my not vaccinating my child impose any risk to your child that you’ve chosen to vaccinate, if the vaccinations prevent the disease in the first place?”

See above for the answer.

Of course, Sawicki can’t resist the usual analogy made by antivaccine activists:

He also said the idea that people could be forced to take a vaccine they don’t want conjured visions of “the horrors of Nazi Germany, forced sterilization, interment, execution and involuntary medical experimentation.”

Yes, because requiring children to be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases is just like forced sterilization, interment, execution, and involuntary medical experimentation. Does Sawicki realize just how offensive his analogy is, particularly to Jews?

Then, of course, there’s the “informed consent” trope, which, as I have argued many times before, is really misinformed consent, in which the benefits of vaccination are vastly understated while the risks are massively overstated, to the point where nonexistent “risks” of vaccines, such as autism, are stated as though they are facts.

Same as it ever was…

Comments

  1. #1 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    May 5, 2015

    Orac, there’s also the impact of the unvaccinated on those who have legitimate medical reasons that they cannot be vaccinated. I suppose Reps. Sawicki and Foley are fine with discriminating against the disabled and medically fragile.

    Which brings to mind another group for whom that Nazi comparison is especially insulting: people with disabilities, who are often at increased risk of complications from diseases and who were also targeted by the Nazi programs.

  2. #2 capnkrunch
    May 5, 2015

    Orac said:

    Does Sawicki realize just how offensive his analogy is, particularly to Jews?

    As a Jew myself I can confirm that this is indeed offensive.

  3. #3 Delphine
    May 5, 2015

    I guess the 400 people a day who die from measles lack a God-given genius immune system.

  4. #4 has
    May 5, 2015

    Sawicki is the sponsor of LD950

    Because LD50 is nowhere near toxic enough for modern politics.

  5. #5 LW
    May 5, 2015

    The immune system we are born with today has evolved and improved over the centuries as our environment and way of life has changed, and we have adapted.

    Centuries? Is this guy by any chance a creationist?

  6. #6 darwinslapdog
    May 5, 2015

    The Mainers who elected this oaf don’t seem all that “evolved”. Sawicki rather makes his own case for forced sterilization–only half kidding there. Besides we’ve done that here–no need to blame Nazis.

  7. #7 shay
    Yes, that was sarcasm
    May 5, 2015

    I guess the 400 people a day who die from measles lack a God-given genius immune system.

    They’re probably all pagans anyway.

  8. #8 Sullivanthepoop
    May 5, 2015

    Nothing like bringing every ignorant antivaxx trope into politics.

  9. #9 MikeMa
    May 5, 2015

    Delphine @#3. To be fair, those 400 are not pale Americans. /snark

  10. #10 sadmar
    May 5, 2015

    LW: I don’t think a creationist would use the word “evolved”, refer to a small ‘c’ “creator’, or aver that humans have been around for over a billion years (“eons”). If anything, Sawicki seems to think natural selection works awfully fast, as our immune system has allowed us to adapt to the environmental changes of the mere centuries since modern civilization and industrialization. I mean, we don’t get smallpox anymore, right? 😉

    if there were more fundies in Maine, some wag could start circulating rumors Sawicki was a minion of hell sent to undermine true Christianity.

    If it’s any consolation, The Bangor Daily News seems to have run this story as ‘quote without comment’ click-bait for a liberal reader base they figured would be appalled by this dude, who is getting torched in comment after comment…

    Quite the charmer, that Sawicki. He’s a telemarketing management consultant, specializing in instituting trainng programs that “help his clients’ call center employees adopt new behaviors and sales techniques” that “often” lead to “sales performance improvements of over 50%”.

    Since the Democrats took control of the Whitehouse and Senate in 2008 we have seen them pursue a relentless agenda of big government control over too many aspects of our personal lives. Obamacare is an abomination that now has the federal government in control of our very bodies by virtue of healthcare regulations. What used to be a private relationship between you and your doctor is now a government controlled “benefit” where unelected government bureaucrats have a seat with you in the examination room, guiding how and what type of treatment your are allowed. For the first time in my life we have a president who actively ignores the religious freedom of American citizens by signing a bill that requires employers, including religious organizations and Catholic hospitals, to pay for birth control measures that directly conflict with their deep moral convictions… I believe big government is the antithesis of a vibrant free market economy. Why am I running? To champion free market principles and push forcefully back against a big government that’s out of money and out of control.

    But he’s for the legalization of marijuana, so at least Tim ought to find some thing to like in his vision of free-dumb.

  11. #11 KayMarie
    May 5, 2015

    I always get twichy about the unelected bureaucrats making decisions thing.

    Really, it isn’t like unelected MBA’s at insurance companies desperate to tweak the bottom line just enough for this quarter so their investors don’t flee to whomever they think will make them money this week haven’t been in the examination room guiding how an what type of treatment you are allowed? Or how about your unelected employer deciding what medical care you are allowed, as men always ignore that birth control pills sometimes are used for medical necessity.

    Last I checked we are still allowed to pay full price if no insurance on earth no matter who runs it won’t pay for it.

  12. #12 Eric Lund
    May 5, 2015

    Orac, there’s also the impact of the unvaccinated on those who have legitimate medical reasons that they cannot be vaccinated. I suppose Reps. Sawicki and Foley are fine with discriminating against the disabled and medically fragile.

    Indeed, I do not see how this bill, if it becomes law, does not put the state in conflict with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The latter is a Federal law, so I see two possible outcomes. One is that the courts will nullify the state law as being in conflict with the Federal law. The other, which is a “be careful what you wish for” outcome, is that any school district in the state which has a medically exempt student in its boundaries will be required to pay for an out-of-district placement for that student, at a likely cost of tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per affected student. Which is money the school districts (and taxpayers–Maine is one of the poorest states in the northeastern US) don’t have.

  13. #13 Lawrence
    May 5, 2015

    I used to believe that people from Maine were relatively sane….this is beginning to make me re-think that particular opinion.

  14. #14 Denice Walter
    May 5, 2015

    @ Lawrence:

    Isn’t Ginger Taylor from Maine?

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    May 5, 2015

    Oh, for the uninitiated:

    Ginger Taylor has a blog ( adventuresinautism.blogspot.com), works the Canary Party’s facebook page, contributed and essay to’ Vaccine Epidemic’ and appears to be generally ‘difficult’ – not the best descriptor but I’m feeling generous today.

  16. #16 Old Rockin' Dave
    Between a pillow and a squishy place...
    May 5, 2015

    sadmar quotes: “What used to be a private relationship between you and your doctor is now a government controlled “benefit” where unelected government bureaucrats have a seat with you in the examination room, guiding how and what type of treatment your are allowed.”
    Yes, I remember that private relationship. It mostly consisted of “you can’t pay the doctor, the doctor doesn’t treat you”.
    Oh for the good old days.

  17. #17 Old Rockin' Dave
    May 5, 2015

    Sawicki’s Nazi analogy not only offends me as a Jew, but also as a polio survivor.
    I hope he’s an outdoorsman; when he gets bitten by a rabid wild animal we can all see how fast he howls for his rabies vaccine.

  18. #18 palindrom
    May 5, 2015

    Lawrence @13 —

    I used to believe that people from Maine were relatively sane

    Well, they did elect Paul LePage to the governorship; Charlie Pierce refers to him as “human bowling jacket Paul LePage”.

  19. #19 Delphine
    May 5, 2015

    #9 Yes, of course. The thinly veiled bigotry of the anti-vax movement is not so thinly veiled after all. It’s just a bunch of browns dying, no big whoop.

  20. #20 Kdog
    Durham, NH
    May 5, 2015

    Ugh. To clarify, 61% of the electorate voted for someone other than LaPage. (I include myself in that group.) You don’t need a majority of the vote to win the governorship in Maine.
    Sawicki’s an idiot.

  21. #21 James Lind
    May 5, 2015

    @Denice

    Yes, Ginger is from Maine.

  22. #22 Darwy
    Røde grøde med fløde
    May 5, 2015

    Ginger Taylor and Laura Condon spend a lot of time (and NVIC funds) in Maine and NH, respectively.

    Idiots, the both of them.

  23. #23 Lawrence
    May 5, 2015

    Damn, I had forgotten that was where they were from…..

  24. #24 herr doktor bimler
    May 5, 2015

    “We are naturally born with a genius immune system, endowed by our creator, that has enabled the human race to grow and thrive over the eons,”

    Yep, Creationist, or at least pandering for creationist votes.

    “On the other hand, the existence of the vaccine business, relative to the existence of human beings, is but a tiny blip, 50 or so years.”

    Apparently vaccines were only invented in the 1960s. Creationism compensates for any amount of knowing jack-sh1t.

  25. #25 Sarah A
    May 5, 2015

    We are naturally born with a genius immune system, endowed by our creator, that has enabled the human race to grow and thrive over the eons,”

    Too bad that same creator also endowed pathogens with genius immune evasion mechanisms which have allowed them to sicken and kill humans over the eons. Honestly, you’ve got to wonder whose side the guy* is on.

    *When someone invokes the “creator” in American politics it’s safe to assume they’re referring to the emphatically male Abrahamic god.

  26. #26 ChrisP
    Australia
    May 6, 2015

    On the other hand, the existence of the vaccine business, relative to the existence of human beings, is but a tiny blip, 50 or so years.

    I am even more impressed with Edward Jenner now. Fancy inventing vaccination 140 years after you died.

    Although, that will probably not be difficult for a creationist to accept.

  27. #27 Amanda
    May 9, 2015

    All I have to say is… Nope.

  28. […] view points try so hard to shield themselves from this accusation. A good example of this is David Gorski’s long running blog series about the anti-vaccine movements consistent denial tha…. In this post I will address a similar claim made by those who are critical of the scientific […]

  29. #29 John
    Smallbany
    May 13, 2015

    Just a quick question:

    Does a genius immune system give you immunity to geniuses?

  30. #30 Helianthus
    May 13, 2015

    @ John

    Does a genius immune system give you immunity to geniuses?

    The way the creationists’ genius immune system is interfering with their thinking, my guess would be it’s monopolizing all the genious-ness of their body.

    To be fair, our immune system is a genius, the way it’s usually able to differentiate between true threats and harmless stuff (although it’s basic modus operandi could be summed up as “tear down first, question later”).

    But anti-vaxers seem to think that if you are a genius, you don’t need to go to school. With their obsession on “natural” immunity, they prefer their genius to lose time re-inventing the wheel all by itself.

  31. […] and the sinking of the Titanic. This series has been going on for five years now and is up to installment #17, with no sign of running out of material. I could go on and on if I want […]

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